-Debunks allegations of financial recklessness
-Appeals to workers to call off strike
Dr. Mrs. Angela Uwakwem, Director, Federal Medical Centre Owerri has made a passionate appeal to the striking workers of the Federal Institution to call off their two-month strike action in the overall interest of Imolites and generality of patients whose lives are at stake as a result of the lingering strike.
She made the appeal during an exclusive interview with THE LEADER in Owerri on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. According to her, the genesis of the current imbroglio relates to misinformation generated from within about the proposed Public Private Partnership of some sections of the Federal Medical Centre geared towards optimal provision of service delivery to patients.
Dr. Uwakwem explained that it is in the overall interest of the establishment and clients, to computerize sections that are relatively important. She elucidated that sections like account department had already been computerized and it is the intention of the management to computerize the Pharmacy Department in such form that Public Private Partnership is engineered to comprehensively capture the available drugs and control usage so as to enhance performance and reduce costs and wastage that culminated to the current face off.
The Medical Director further explained that the challenges of funding projects in the Medical Centre necessitated the proposed exploitation of the alternative means as some projects linger for over four years uncompleted.
Dr. Uwakwem postulated that equipping the laboratory and ensuring computerization of the pharmacy will not only enhance performance but also ensure tracking of drugs and surveillance of use and administration.
She said that drug bonuses and monumental procurement claims without Local Purchase Orders (LPO) made it exigent to propose the computerization of the pharmacy department and engaging Public Private Partners to share in the risk of procurement and management so as to curtail the excessive abuse of the present dispensation which will ultimately reduce losses and enhance performance.
According to her, the over N150 million spent on stocking of drugs could be freed and used for elevation of facilities at the laboratory and provide sundry equipment and infrastructure that will propagate health delivery in the institution.
She informed THE LEADER that when she took the proposal to the Top Management Committee for consideration and approval, the head of the Pharmacy Department objected and insisted that the Pharmaceutical Council is opposed to the scheme until she finally brought the report of the council which in fact has support for the Public Private Partnership Proposal.
“Thereafter, I presented the proposal to the Board of the Medical Centre but the head of the Pharmacy Department had intimated the leadership of the Union that they will soon lose their jobs if PPP is allowed to flourish.” She explained how she informed the Union which consented earlier but later reneged and wrote petition against the proposal and started agitating against it. According to her, the Board was pressurized to suspend the Public Private Partnership to allow peace reign.
She further explained that the Federal Ministry of Health has not released the 2013-2014 promotion arrears as alleged by the workers. She said that only six Federal Medical Centres in Nigeria have received the 2013 promotion arrears and none has received the 2014 promotion arrears.
She debunked the allegation involving herself or the establishment in any form of reckless spending. She further observed that since the Leaders of the Workers Unions have written petition to the relevant authorities, it becomes incumbent and pertinent upon them to wait for their investigations which could validate their claims or not. Dr. Mrs. Angela Uwakwem also said that she got approval from relevant authorities which necessitated the use of some money realized from over head cost, to procure a giant CT Scan Machine, fluoroscopy machine and other equipment that will enhance the optimum performance in service delivery of the Federal Medical Centre.
She further explained that the resident doctors’ strike is a national issue predicated upon their agitation for skipping allowance which has not been approved by the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to her, the Medical Consultants are not on strike and the resident doctors have started receiving their “relativity” allowance. She said that when the Federal Ministry of Health approves the skipping allowance, they will also provide the template that will facilitate disbursement.
Dr. Mrs. Uwakwem denied making pronouncement on radio to the effect that the least paid staff in the institution receive N48,000. She avers that there is a subsisting minimum wage in Nigeria and wondered how she became a member of Salaries and Wages Commission.
Asked to comment on the alleged disparity in wages and salaries of the institution compared with others, she said the onus of proof of the disparity lies on the workers who so far have not presented evidential proof to validate their claim.
Dr. Mrs. Uwakwem is worried by the claim of the staff that fees paid by patients in the FMC Owerri are exorbitant. She insisted that the recommendations of the Heads of various units determine charges paid by patients.
She admonished the striking workers to heed the plea of the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Nigeria Labour Congress and Joint Health Sector Union and call off the strike in the overall interest of patients and people of the state as the Federal Medical Centre Owerri is the only Federal Health facility in the state.